Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
The NHS and Public Health England are strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions (listed below) which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.
What do we mean by extremely vulnerable?
People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:
1. Solid organ transplant recipients
2. People with specific cancers:
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
Shielding is for your personal protection; it is your choice to decide whether to follow the measures we advise. Individuals who have been given a prognosis of less than six months to live, and some others in special circumstances, could decide not to undertake shielding. This will be a deeply personal decision. You are advised to call your GP or specialist to discuss this.
The NHS in England is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice.
If you think you fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed above and you have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by your GP, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.
We understand this is an anxious time and people considered extremely vulnerable will understandably have questions and concerns. Plans are being readied to make sure you can rely on a wide range of help and support.
The guidance published by Public Health England can be found here. For a copy of the guidance in Easy Read, click here.
To read translation versions of the guidance in other languages, click here.
Easy read versions with advice on Keeping away from other people and Advice on staying at home are also available.